The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba, has said his leadership of the Nigeria Police Force has zero tolerance for the abuse of the rights of journalists and other citizens, and that it would clamp down heavily on erring officers.
The IGP on Thursday told a visiting team from the International Press Institute (IPI), Nigeria, that the Nigeria police respected the role of journalists in the development of society and would collaborate with the media to advance safety, security, human rights, justice and equity in the country, while also protecting the rights of journalists.
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The IPI disclosed this in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja.
IGP Baba said, “The Nigeria police and the media are partners as we are both working towards the same goal, though from different prisms.
“It is, therefore, very important for the Nigeria police that while the media goes about its duties, it can do so without fear and in total security.
“Let me also assure you that we shall take a firm action against officers who violate the rights of all citizens, most especially journalists. Our doors are open and you can report such violations to us.”
The IGP also appealed for more cooperation from the media to help in creating greater awareness of the role of the police in society.
Speaking earlier, the president of the IPI, Nigeria, Musikilu Mojeed, expressed concern that in the buildup to the 2023 general elections, there appeared to be an increase in the violation of the rights of journalists as they are arbitrarily arrested, harassed and detained.
“For carrying out their constitutional duty and upholding the people’s rights to know, Nigerian journalists are routinely harassed, assaulted, arrested, detained, incarcerated and sometimes killed,” Mr Mojee said.
He cited this arbitrariness as the reason for Nigeria’s low ranking in the 2021World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders, stating that Nigeria was ranked 120 out of 180 countries surveyed, scoring just 39.69 points.
The IPI Nigeria delegation to the police headquarters included the body’s secretary and treasurer, Ahmed I. Shekarau and Rafatu Salami, respectively; the chief operating officer of Peoples Daily, Dr Hammed M. Bello; the chairman of the Editorial Board of Blueprint, Hajiya Zainab O. Suleiman, and the publisher of Newsdiaryonline, Mr Danlami Nmodu.
The visit by the IPI Nigeria team to the IGP is the first in a series of engagements with government authorities as part of efforts to enhance the operating environment for journalists and media organisations in Nigeria.